So, the Prime Minister had 26 ‘meetings’ with News International executives in the first year of his premiership – that takes some doing. What it illustrates all too clearly is the degree of influence Rupert Murdoch has enjoyed and the power he’s been able to exact over the Prime Minister that he can ‘persuade’ him to make the time in his busy schedule to fit in 26 meetings with his executives.
Mr Cameron may bluff and bluster all he likes, but he’s been up close and personal with Rupert Murdoch ever since he agreed to do his bidding over Ofcom and BSkyB in 2009, in exchange for his support in the 2010 election. Since then he’s been beholden to Murdoch, and like a good little boy he’s tried to keep his side of the bargain. Had the phone hacking scandal not been supercharged by the Dowler revelation, the BSkyB bid would have been waved through. And not a cheep would we have heard from our doughty (sic) MPs who had been cowed by threats from the News International mafia.
In Parliament the Prime Minister has protested that nothing ‘inappropriate’ concerning BSkyB was discussed at any of the meetings with News International. This is such a glaring terminological inexactitude one can only surmise that Mr Cameron thinks we are all idiots or that we’ve just fallen off the Christmas tree. It’s a racing certainty that most of the meetings were about BSkyB and that subject alone. Let’s not forget that buying the remaining shares in BSkyB has been top of Rupert Murdoch’s wish list for years.
The Prime Minister is now in a bit of a bind. Having woven a web of ‘half –truths’ about the ‘deal’ he and the Conservatives made with Murdoch in 2009, about Coulson, about what he knew and when he knew it, about BSkyB and about the content of his meetings with News International, he has massively increased his vulnerability factor. It only takes a disgruntled Coulson, Brooks or Llewellyn, or for some random forgotten factoid to surface without warning, and he is undone.
As with other scandals, this one is following a familiar pattern. The more the participants talk, the more they protest their innocence, the bigger the hole becomes. Because of his actions – and inactions – Mr Cameron is in that hole whether he likes it or not. Depending on the ‘events’ of the coming months, the grandees of the ‘nasty party’ may very well decide that come the next election, that’s where he should stay.